Is now a good time to plan a trip to the beach?

Mar 20, 2020

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The most exotic destination you’re enjoying right now is probably your porch, balcony or a nice hot shower in your own bathroom. Or maybe you’re really lucky and have access to a nice, deep soaking tub or perhaps even a pool. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, your spring break plans were probably … canned. At this point, you’re not even sure if your summer travel plans will work out. Given all that, it’s reasonable to wonder if perhaps now is a good time to plan an old-fashioned trip to the beach.

So, before we get to the nitty-gritty answer to this question, please know that now is not the time for nonessential travel. No jetting off to the beaches of Hawaii, Mexico, etc. That goes without saying, but it also has to be said.

Related: Should I travel? Advice for the coronavirus outbreak

Should you go to the beach now?

Unlike in places such as Spain, as of today, those who are feeling healthy in most parts of the U.S. are still allowed to go for a walk or similar outside … presuming you can maintain a safe social distance — at least six feet — from others. So, if you happen to live somewhere on or near a beach, heading for a stroll or a relaxing sit on a secluded or uncrowded beach might be a great break from the great indoors.

(Summer Hull / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

However, a beach day is still not automatically a great plan. For one, not all beaches are actually open — and for good reason.

For example, at midnight on March 20, public beaches in Pinellas County (the Florida county home to Clearwater, St. Pete, etc.) will all close for at least two weeks. These beaches played host to some of the too-busy-for-comfort beach images and videos you may have seen on TV over the previous few days. Miami beaches also recently closed.

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(Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

Avoid crowded beaches

While some of those more crowded beaches are now closing, just say no to the spring-break-2020-party found on any beaches that may be left open. In fact, overcrowding is what could cause more beaches to close, especially as the weather continues to warm and other leisure destinations close up shop. For example, Pensacola Beach is still open but if crowds persist, don’t be shocked to see it close due to health concerns.

The same is true for Galveston Beach, near Houston. While that beach is not necessarily one people flock to from all over the country, it is a popular destination for Texans. We are currently in the middle of the Texas spring break season, and officials are reportedly considering closing access points if crowds pass a comfortable threshold, though thus far that has not happened.

Out west in California, state camping grounds have been closed, but state trails and beaches are still open for locals looking for a breath of fresh air.

Just be smart

Is right now a great time to plan a big, traditional all-day trip to the beach? Probably not.

If you have a local, easily accessible and relatively empty beach at your disposal, just scan for potential crowds and then keep your visit short and simple. Whether you take a foldable chair and a book, or your kids want to jump in a few waves, travel light and be ready to close up shop if the beach becomes at all crowded.

It’s probably not a good time to rely too heavily on traditional beach concessions, public bathrooms, etc. where you may find higher concentrations of people and surfaces that haven’t been disinfected. If you need a chance of scenery, use the beach itself to get some much-needed fresh, salty air for an hour or two, before returning to your own quasi-quarantine bunker.

(Photo by Shelby Soblick for The Points Guy)
(Photo by Shelby Soblick for The Points Guy)

Bottom line

If you are looking for and dreaming of a beach day further out on the calendar, the situation will hopefully improve enough during this year’s beach season to seek out some of our favorite beaches in Florida, “secret” spots in the Caribbean and some top beach picks for families. Perhaps you’ll even score a better than normal travel deal once we all start to recover from the impact of COVID-19.

In the meantime, you can debate the merits of a beach trip to Hawaii vs. the Caribbean or perhaps the Maldives vs. Bora Bora.

Featured image by Per Breiehagen/ Getty Images

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